Ego is a small word with weighty connotations. In some cases, we think of ego as simply healthy self-esteem and self-confidence. In most cases, however, the term “ego” is used to describe self-esteem and self-confidence that has gone too far. The truth is, ego can be healthy – especially for tech leaders. After all, ego is what drives us to achieve. However, too much ego, or an ego that rears its head in toxic form at the wrong time, can lead to strained relationships with fellow organizational leaders, or even project failure. Use this advice to know when to use your ego and when to put it aside.
Questions to Ask to Keep Your Ego In Check
There are no hard-and-fast rules about when to use your ego and when to put it aside. But if you yourself these questions before making a decision, you’ll be more likely to make the right choice.
Why am I doing this? Always ask yourself what your true motivation is for any decision. You may not be the late president of Turkmenistan who renamed the months of the year after himself, but lots of decisions can be driven by ego, rather than what’s best for the team or the organization. Pausing to ask “why” is important to be sure you’re taking an action for the right reasons.
What are the possible outcomes? It’s easy to let your ego take over and focus only on the potential positive outcomes of a decision, but strong leaders will take the time to consider all possible outcomes. For example, an IoT initiative might seem “sexy” and it can be enticing to want to make a dramatic mark, but such an expansive and expensive project could actually cripple the team and set you back. Always consider whether a goal is achievable and sustainable.
How will it be supported? Any time you tackle a new project or initiative, you must ask whether you have the people in place to make it happen, whether you have the capacity to hire new people if needed, and how you will create the employee buy-in you need to get it done. This often means tabling your ego and helping employees understand the reasons why they should get on board. Being persuasive often means putting other people’s needs and egos before your own.
The Ego Balancing Act
Asking yourself those questions as part of the decision-making process can help you take your ego out of the equation, but it is important to remember that ego is actually important for effective leadership. Ego is what boosts your confidence, it’s what drives you to push for the budgets your team needs to get a project done, it’s what drives you to try new things and tackle new initiatives that lead to tech innovation. If you didn’t have an ego, you likely wouldn’t be in a leadership role today.
But to take your leadership to the next level, you must learn how to strike the right balance and know when to shelve your ego in favor of the greater good. Let your ego help you get to new heights, but never let it stand in the way of your team’s overall success.
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